Hang Gliding and Procrastination…

As our mountain journey came to a close I took US 6 towards the farmer’s market in Edwards,CO. I had to  get some tomatoes and sweet Olathe corn for dinner Saturday night. This old time meandering highway maps out roughly parallel to the Eagle River. On the south side the jagged cliffs soar beautifully and provide a great launch pad for hang gliders.

On a scale of one to ten on the insanity index, those who want to tempt fate as Icarus once did, push the needle just a skosh over nine. For the uninitiated you lash your body to this contraption of an aluminum frame with stretched nylon covering every lift surface you can find. You then take off on a dead run over, you guessed it, a precipice that may be a couple of thousand  feet or more above mother earth below.

Now assuming you have the tilt angle correct and you don’t trip on your dash then you are soon soaring like an eagle. You make great swooping turns as you seek to catch updrafts that may hold you aloft and extend your ride. That was the easy part. Now you have to push the stanchions this way and that to not only turn but to effect a landing on something approximating the size of a large postage stamp. Then you one, two or three point land to the applause and huzzahs of your friends. Like a car race I think everyone just comes to see if you are going to go splat on a large rock. C’est la vie.

Pulling over to the side of the road I watched several flights and most if not all the aviators were very good at their craft. I had just read a book by Malcolm Gladwell and one of his chapters dwelt on how even the best laid plans of mice and men can go awry. In specific he spoke of the Challenger disaster that met its fate because of a faulty “O” ring. Point being that if it was not a bad seal, it very well could have been something else. There are a gazillion parts on a space shuttle. The were quadruple backup systems at Three Mile Island. We seem to have to have this obsession with getting everything perfect when in the long run….Shit Happens.

Think about our lives from so many vantage points. Take medicine. We are now in an age where we test everything about our bodies. We are paranoid about what goes in and yes that which comes out. There has to be a reason for everything because God knows no one just gets sick and even worse it could not be possible that someone just died of natural causes. We have to find a culprit and root him out forever. Better yet we have to put safety nets in every part of our lives to ward off the evil invaders. Seat belts, helmets, air bags and a pill for this or that has caused us to be just spectators to this thing called life.

This morning there was an article in the Wall Street Journal about procrastination. The topic has intrigued me for years from both a personal and intellectual viewpoint. Why do people put things off? Of course we might have other things to do but there is a more satanic reason we don’t act upon our instincts. We hem and haw and throw up every roadblock possible. When it comes right down to it, we don’t want to be wrong and ergo embarrassed.

It comes back to that little marvel that creeps into our life known as self esteem. Forget how we look to ourselves. It is how we look to our fellow man and woman that matters. If it was a passing moment that would be fine but people will tie themselves in knots fretting about this or that and imagining the repercussions and incredible failures that might result. So they do absolutely nothing. The longer they wait the worse it gets. That wall of doubt soon morphs into a mountainside that no one is going to get you to jump off.

The saddest part is that this turns into a solitary confinement that becomes a lot worse than Supermax. You pace your little cell and only can wonder what if? You pass on opportunity and circumvent relationships and maybe love itself. Oh yeah, you are close to making decision. I just have to do a little more research. I will wait until next year because it just doesn’t feel right at this very moment. And on and on and on.

Our world only exacerbates this. We have left ourselves to be ruled by experts. Economists tell us what is going to happen this year and next. In sports we have pros to cure our swings and our psyche. Quants and algorithms rule the markets. Want to buy something? We have to check Consumers Reports and a thousand websites to make sure we are buying the absolute best products at the cheapest price imaginable.

Then there are our friends and enemies. Each one knows everything. That’s not a bad bottle of wine but I am going to tell you about a truly great one. Oh, you went to Rome and didn’t see the Church of St Catastrophina? Well you really missed out and are worthless. I just took a lesson from Joe Gasotz and he has found the answer to great golf. Only $300 an hour and worth every penny.

Now you may get everything right by following twenty nine steps before action. But do you have any idea how much fun you missed out on in the meantime? There is a certain thrill and yes fear about going into the unknown but it is like going down a double black ski run and then looking back up from the bottom and saying.”Hey, I did that.” Me? I am going to jump off that cliff on my hang glider. I will see you at the bottom…I hope.

As Always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

In sociology and psychology, self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, “I am competent”, “I am worthy”) and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame
“Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them.” Psychology Today

Rate Of Death in sports per 100,000 population

Base Jumping 43. 17
Swimming 1.77
Cycling 1.08
Skydiving .99
Hang Gliding . 86
Running .79
Table Tennis .40
Skiing .06

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